How do women starting their career in tech feel about the gender pay gap?

Sarah Kaiser
By , - Responsible Business

One of the main factors contributing to the gender pay gap is occupational segregation: men are more likely than women to pursue careers in highly paid occupations.

This is definitely true of the tech sector, a male-dominated industry which has a higher than average pay gap of 25%. The problem starts early. Girls are still gravely underrepresented in STEM subjects – in 2016 only 16% of IT students were women – and that naturally has a massive impact on the talent pipeline for the tech industry.

Inspiring more girls into STEM education and tech careers is a vital plank of our action plan to make Fujitsu the tech company where women come to succeed.

We spoke to some of the women on our graduate programme to understand how they feel about the gender pay gap in the tech sector, and what we can do to encourage more women to consider a career in IT.

Sophie Hodgson Karen Thomson Bethia Noble
Project Manager, BAS HR Advisor Service Delivery Graduate, MIS
Three words to describe her experience of Fujitsu so far: Three words to describe her experience of Fujitsu so far: Three words to describe her experience of Fujitsu so far:
Interesting, challenging and fun Fun, innovative, opportunities Whirlwind, Challenging and Ever-Changing 

 

Sarah Moreton Sarah-Jane Littleford
Service Delivery Manager, TMS Project Manager & CSR Specialist
Three words to describe her experience of Fujitsu so far: Three words to describe her experience of Fujitsu so far:
Challenging, varied, fun Passionate, driven, responsible

The tech sector has a higher than average gender pay gap. How do you feel about that?

Sarah Moreton (SM) said: I suppose it is slightly disheartening that females are not making it to the higher levels of tech organisations but it’s not overly surprising as it is a stereotypically male-oriented industry.

Bethia Noble (BN) added: If I’m completely honest it doesn’t surprise me that the tech sector has a higher than average gender pay gap due to the fact that it is a male dominated industry. In addition to that it is also widely known that the highest paid jobs within the Tech Sector are in technical roles and female engagement in technical roles is fairly low across the board. Although it doesn’t surprise me it does make me consider my own prospects within the tech sector and whether or not I would have a higher chance of progressing outside of it.

Sarah-Jane Littleford (SJL) was more optimistic: I’m unsurprised, given that tech has traditionally been a male-centric career path! But I’m hopeful that this is changing as more women embark upon careers in the sector, and also as men and women both become more aware of the business benefits that result from increased diversity

Sophie Hodgson (SH) agreed: I expected that as it is traditionally a male orientated industry and it will take time for that to change. I would not be happy working in this industry if there wasn’t progress being made towards decreasing the gender pay gap.

And Karen Thomson (KT) said: It is annoying but people go into the tech sector because they love technology and it is a really exciting place to work!

So, what do you love about working in the tech sector?

SH: All the cool new technology and seeing how it can help people in their day to day lives, such as improving the safety of workers using Ubiquitousware. And I get to be one of the first to hear and see it all! You also get to work with some really knowledgeable people.

KT agreed: We do amazing things that actually make a difference to people’s lives. Like the DHL driver drowsiness which tracks a driver’s blinking and the retail tags which allows shop assistants to track where clothes are in store. And there are so many jobs in the tech sector, you can literally do anything.

SM: It’s such an exciting, ever-changing industry. You don’t know what the future holds or what you will be working on in 5 years’ time, and there are such a variety of roles.

SJL: Technology is going to underpin all of the major advances in our world in the next century: from robotics, to AI, VR, big data, and the Internet of Things. All human progress is going to be enabled and accelerated by technology. Who wouldn’t want to be working at the forefront of that development, in the tech sector?

Given these amazing benefits, why do you think so few girls are currently considering careers in the tech sector?

KT: Because we don’t have enough female role models in the tech sector. But I’d encourage any women embarking on a career in tech to be bold! The sector is all about change and innovation.

SH: I think it may still come across as a very male orientated, logical sector whereas actually it can lend itself to skills more associated with women, such as problem solving and organisation. In my team there is actually a lot of women in management which I found surprising. It’s been good to find that a lot of people who I have talked to are very supportive of getting more women into the industry.

SM: I think it’s mainly societal factors, like not getting exposure to tech at school. A lot of people have the impression that it’s a more practical industry, when in fact there is a variety of roles in tech and not all are technical!

BN: Not long after I joined Fujitsu I worked on a project to look at why there was a lack of female employees within a technical part of the business. After running several focus groups with our female engineers, some key actions arose that we used to encourage more women into engineering and improve the experience of our existing females employees, e.g. implementing female workwear.

When we asked the graduates about why those chose to work for Fujitsu, they all spoke about Responsible Business as one of their main drivers:

SM: I wanted to work for a global company that valued its people.

SJL: In Fujitsu, I found a company with ethics that reflect my own. Fujitsu is a responsible company that takes into account community involvement and environmental safeguards, and not simply short-term profit. I am happy to work for a company that includes long-term environmental and social considerations as part of global business strategy.

BN: One of the reasons why I was drawn into a career at Fujitsu was because of the emphasis that the business place on being a responsible business. This was something that resonated with me personally and as a result of this I have been involved in various responsible business activities since joining Fujitsu: I’ve organised events such as the Cultural Diversity Cook-Off; I’m a Shine LGBT+ Ambassador for my site; and I’m part of the Channels team for the Women’s Business Network, which looks after the Network’s social media presence. If I’m honest, I was not drawn to the tech sector as much as I was Fujitsu itself. However now I’m in the tech sector I’m keen to stay as I think that it’s an exciting and dynamic place to work.

KT: I’m an active member of the Women’s Business Network and I help look after their social media. I am also a site ambassador for SHINE, our LGBT+ Network. I love being part of these networks, they are really good and it is such a great way to get involved in things beyond your day job.

How do you feel about Fujitsu’s approach to gender pay gap reporting and our action plan to close the gender pay gap?

SM: It’s great to see Fujitsu taking action and playing their part in closing the gender pay gap. It shows that they value female talent and care about the diversity of their workforce.

SJL: I’m really excited that Fujitsu is taking this so seriously. Having support for closing the gender pay gap at the highest levels of the organisation gives me hope that we will succeed, and show the rest of the tech sector how it could be done! We have so many impressive women working at Fujitsu already; it would be great to ensure that these women are recognised for the hard work they do and diversity of outlooks that they bring to the table.

SH: So far, I think Fujitsu has come across as a socially responsible company from diversity and inclusion to how we sell to our customers so I would expect it to take positive action towards closing the gender pay gap. However, I don’t know how far the actions will actually go in changing some of our more traditionally male oriented teams.

BN: For me personally I think it sends out a very clear message that Fujitsu are publishing their gender pay gap figures relatively early on as I think this sets the pace for how we intend to go on. Furthermore I think it’s important that Fujitsu have already put a concrete plan in place to look at tackling the gender pay gap prior to publicly releasing the figures. This shows we are not just resting on our laurels and waiting to see what other tech companies are doing about their gender pay gap. In light of this, I’m excited for the change ahead and very much looking forward to being able to succeed in my career at Fujitsu.

KT: It’s really good that we are looking forward to how we will solve our issues, not just looking back and engaging in a blame culture. We are aware of the difficulties and the inequalities but we are actively trying to reduce that inequality.

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